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Money and Who Makes It Is ...

By Mark Hall
August 15, 2005 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - ... a sensitive issue in the open-source community. According to Mitchell Baker, president of the Mozilla Foundation in Mountain View, Calif., "Anytime money gets into the picture, people get suspicious." Baker was explaining to an audience of open-source
developers at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention in Portland, Ore., earlier this month why she feels her nonprofit organization needs a for-profit sister company to promote and manage the world's No. 2 Internet browser, Firefox.
The money problem inside the open-source world stems from the fact that most developers who contribute to open-source projects do so for free, while some individuals build successful companies around those projects and profit from them. Paul Everitt, executive director of the Plone Foundation in Houston, which promotes the Plone open-source content management software, says, "If you want to attract developers, you can't give off the smell that someone's going to make a lot of money" while leaving the developers in the cold.

Winston Damarillo, CEO of Simula Labs LLC
Winston Damarillo, CEO of Simula Labs LLC
Mike Shaver, the Mozilla Foundation's technology strategist, says those views helped shape the structure of the new Mozilla Corp. so it would own no assets and, despite its for-profit status, would be unlikely to earn a dime. "Everything we do is for the [Mozilla] community," he says.
Winston Damarillo, CEO of Simula Labs LLC, a venture capital business that nurtures open-source companies, acknowledges that there's "a little bit" of resentment among some open-source programmers. Damarillo, who recently sold open-source application server firm Gluecode Software Inc. in El Segundo, Calif., to IBM , proudly says, "We produced a few open-source millionaires." But he stresses that his goal is to offer the "inner core [of developers] of an open-source project to be co-founders" of the companies that Simula Labs will launch.
Zach Urlocker, vice president of marketing at MySQL Inc.
Zach Urlocker, vice president of marketing at MySQL Inc.
Zach Urlocker, vice president of marketing at the leading open-source database company, MySQL Inc. in Cupertino, Calif., claims that open-source developers "are less extremist today." Still, he says it is essential for MySQL "to err on the side of overcommunicating" the company's goals to developers to deflect any resentment that the company makes money. In addition, says CEO Marten Mickos, MySQL pays for key pieces of code developed by contributors to its database.
Damarillo argues that people in the open-source community have much to offer the IT industry. "The biggest loss for open-source is if developers become salaried employees instead of entrepreneurs," he says.
Open-source code can pose legal ...
... headaches for IT departments if they don't carefully manage the Byzantine licensing requirements. Paul Henderson, vice president of


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